I am a bit tired of the form of the debate about the EU. Let me propose a number of problems I see with this type of “brutal“ reporting - and the narratives that we create.
1) The “truths” are utterly selective. It draws on the narrative that the EU did nothing in the current crisis. The 750 billion ECB program? Not mentioned. Just “the EU is silent”. Joint purchasing (where even the US fails miserably as a Union)? Not mentioned.
Instead it draws on well-established narratives. All of them similarly selective. Let’s take ”Germans insult Italians and Spaniards”. Offered without evidence. Recent days have seen a large amount of pro-Italy op-eds in the German press and one shameful piece of idiocy in Welt.
Of course you can say all the positive noice did not sway the government on Eurobonds. But to select the most idiotic racist piece and establish that as the narrative? That is dishonest.
It comes as no surprise that the narrative is equally wrongly simplified when it comes to other countries. Let’s take the US. When the US was created, we learn, it established joint liability for federal bonds. Just like that. Interesting...
No mention of the fight about central banking, the estasblishment of a bank in 1790, rejected by republicans, running out in 1811. The fight about a second bank. And the final creation of a central bank in the 20th Century. All because of a fight about powers of states.
We also learn that Unions of course selflessly help their states. As the Trump administration is setting out to show that is also somewhat of an oversimplification. The reality is: it’s all not black and white. Shades of grey.
2) - And I hope I have not lost you, because this is important - What is the right comparator? The EU is, as we know, not a state. So if you choose to compare it with a state, on balance expect it to have fewer powers, take less action.
On the other hand: it is more than e.g. the Commonwealth. So expect it to do more and have more powers. And you know what: on balance, both statements hold true.
3) And this point is so important I have to turn it into a separate thread one day: What is your alternative state of affairs. Let me explain: Are you comparing EU action to the action the EU should ideally take? Guess what. You will by definition be disappointed.
If you are comparing the EU to paradise, well boo ha. You should not be surprised by the result. By the way: no political entity and few things on earth would fare well in that comparison. But it gets worse...
... You will find out that people don’t agree on paradise either. You might think of a state of nature in which everyone is equal. Your neighbour might think of a competitive system in which the hardest striving is richly compensated.
The EU is a compromise machine. And we are increasingly bad at appreciated compromises. We want the right decision to be taken. And the right decision is clearly the one I consider right. If you disagree you are stupid, uneducated, paid by Soros or capitalists etc.
The real way to approach it? Is the EU making things better or not. Is the US federal level making things better or not. Is the UK level making things better or not.
That’s disappointing. I know.